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State Implements Tougher Work Requirements for Some Welfare Recipients

Missouri is placing tougher job seeking requirements on many people who receive welfare. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

Many of the 42 thousand Missourians who receive monthly payments through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families will now have to demonstrate they have a plan to find work or get training.

Ana Compain-Romero is spokesperson, Missouri Department of Social Services.

She says the department is implementing a federal requirement that 50 percent of Missouri's recipients who can work, find employment. Right now, only 19 percent of recipients who could be working are engaged in job seeking activities. Compain-Romero says there are penalties if the percentage doesn't increase.

As the welfare roles in Missouri have decreased over the last decade, so have the federal requirement for work participation among recipients. That has now changed, forcing Missouri and other states to increase the number of recipients who are seeking employment or training.

Compain-Romero says welfare recipients will have assistance from the state Division of Workforce Development or DWD in finding work.

Critics of the changes say Missouri could make it easier for recipients by administering welfare benefits and job assistance through one state agency.

Compain-Romero says she believes the change will be a positive one for recipients. She says the goal is to find them a permanent way to support themselves.

Compain-Romero says the changes should not effect the time it takes to process benefits or new applicants.